I’ve already waxed lyrical this summer about my love of afternoon tea, but I’m not quite finished. I think this year I’ve managed to fix in more afternoon tea treats than any other, and I’m so not mad about that – and it means I’ve been able to share some of my favourite spots around London.
Today, though, is my thoughts on a fully vegan afternoon tea. I’m not vegan, and don’t particularly plan on becoming one any time soon, but I love trying plant-based alternatives and this was no different. I was really excited to try some different finger sandwiches, and as Café Forty One is advertised as London’s only vegan patisserie I could not wait to try the cakes out.
We had the beautiful dining room pretty much to ours midweek, and it was so peaceful – though a little dark which was a huge shame as it was a beautiful day. We were presented with two beautiful stands of goodies for our tea – suitably allergy-free (given I’m allergic to tomatoes, and my sister is to citrus we aren’t easy customers!).
The alcohol-free bubbles were lightly flavoured with pomegranate and the perfect start. It definitely made the whole experience a little more luxurious.
First up was the sandwiches. The savouries are always my favourite part of an afternoon tea and these definitely didn’t disappoint. My favourite was the tofu with chutney – almost cheesy and just so perfectly balanced. We also really loved the pesto sandwich, always a winner whether vegan or not! The only one which we didn’t really rate was the ‘egg’ alternative – the flavour was great (surprisingly eggy) but the texture too soft. Definitely needed to be on some kind of seeded bread.
Obviously scones are pretty much essential to any afternoon tea, and I was worried I’d really miss the clotted cream. I’m a cream first kinda girl so it almost melts into the scone and so coconut cream was a real change for me – it pretty much all melted away. However it was so delicious, adding a totally new flavour dimension to the fluffy scones. The jam was pretty much just crushed raspberries so super fruity and sharp, they were delicious!
And now we come to the cakes and I have to say on the whole I was super, super disappointed. With the restaurant being paraded as a vegan patisserie I am a little shocked at the standard of these, as I felt pretty much all of them were dry, not particularly flavourful and (in the cake of the mini-loaf cake thing) almost stale. In fact the only enjoyable one was a little trifle pot – now that I could have eaten five or so of!
I don’t want to end on a bad note, because I loved the scones and sandwiches – but yep, this afternoon tea didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It’s certainly worth a visit, particularly if you’re looking for a completely vegan environment. But the cake part needs some work.
Have you tried a vegan afternoon tea? Did it live up to your expectations?